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Author Megan Miranda Couldn’t Land on a Killer for ‘Daughter of Mine’: Book Questions Answered (Exclusive)

Author Megan Miranda dropped her latest mystery, Daughter of Mine, on Tuesday, April 9 — and it’s just as twisty as the rest of her novels.

While it’s not based on a true story, Miranda was inspired by very real events while writing the story about Hazel Sharp, the daughter of Mirror Lake’s long-time sheriff. After a series of unexpected events ­— two cars dredged up from the town’s various bodies of water and one major drought — Hazel inherits her childhood home much to the chagrin of brothers Gage and Caden.

“A couple of years ago I started to read the stories about what was happening in Lake Mead [in Arizona and Nevada] during the drought. Suddenly, the water levels were dropping, and long buried secrets started to be exposed,” Miranda explained to Us Weekly exclusively ahead of the book’s release. “I read a story about people who were doing a home renovation in their backyard, and they found a car just buried there. They had no idea how long it had been there or how many years it had been there. And it made me start thinking about all the mysteries that might just be existing around us — hidden just under the surface.”

As the story of Daughter of Mine unfolds, Miranda’s protagonist Hazel comes to the same conclusion and refuses to let the secrets of her family, including the truth about her missing mother, stay hidden.

Author Megan Miranda Couldn't Land on a Killer for 'Daughter of Mine’: Book Questions Answered
Megan Miranda. Courtesy of Megan Miranda/Instagram

Us broke down the ins and outs of Daughter of Mine with Miranda, who admitted that deciding on the killer for this book proved to be difficult.

Keep reading for Us Weekly’s burning questions about Daughter of Mine all of Miranda’s honest answers — with some spoilers:

Us Weekly: At its core, this book focuses on family and all its different members. Was there one scene that became harder to write?

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Megan Miranda: There are always scenes in every one of my books that I circle around, and I know they’re coming. I think to myself, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to write that because, at that point, I’ve become very attached to my characters and there’s things that I just don’t want them to have to confront or learn about. I try to work my way around them every time. … They’re very emotional scenes when a character is realizing, maybe, the past isn’t exactly what they thought or the people around them aren’t exactly who they thought them to be. They’re usually things that happen near the end because they’re the big revelations. But yes, there were definitely moments that were very difficult to write in this book that I didn’t want to happen to Hazel, but they ended up being very important for her.

Us Weekly: There were a few big reveals in the book, Hazel’s parentage being a big one. How do you decide where to place these major moments?

Author Megan Miranda Couldn't Land on a Killer for 'Daughter of Mine’: Book Questions Answered
S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books

Megan Miranda: My general rule is, if it’s not relevant or needed, then I kind of hold back on it. So, those reveals allow me to provide a backbone of information that changes the perspective that the readers are seeing. So, when [Hazel’s] going back home at first, she’s going for her father’s funeral and her brothers are there, and something happened to the mother but you’re not quite sure what. It’s not really until she comes face-to-face with having to reveal that information of actually, I wasn’t a part of this family until I was seven years old, and that’s why it’s causing this tension of: Why am I the one to inherit this house?

Us Weekly: Let’s talk about Caden. Did you always know he was going to get a redemption arc at the end of the novel?

Megan Miranda: I always want my characters to come around and understand one another. I did think that that was going to be a relationship that could have a different understanding. They were the same age growing up and were seen in direct competition with one another. [They] had disrupted one another’s lives a lot, and I think neither one of them could see from the other’s perspective. It takes all these years later to look back and realize who they were and what they were dealing with, and the secrets that each of them were keeping. I really did want to have that resolution.

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Us Weekly: Jamie’s storyline became an incredible red herring. How did you come up with that?

Megan Miranda: That actually didn’t come to me until I was almost all the way through the first draft. I like to not know what happens when I start the book, because I feel like I can be surprised. I can have [the] freedom of seeing what puzzle pieces there are. … That kind of changed the whole story for me.

Us Weekly: Jamie and Hazel obviously have that missed connection — which leads into this storyline. Was there ever a possibility that the women met up before Jamie disappeared?

Megan Miranda: I always had it that Hazel missed the message. … I’m really interested in this idea of what little step could you have taken that changes the trajectory of the story — but that you missed — and that’s what drives [Hazel] to try and find her. I always had them missing one another in order to also kind of keep that mystery going forward. But I think it’s something that haunts Hazel.

Us Weekly: How early did you know who would be the killer in this book?

Megan Miranda: I had an idea in my mind, and I changed it several times as I was writing. I did circle back to that original idea, but it wasn’t until the very, very end. But I usually know parts of the backstory. I’ll know maybe the things that have happened 20 years earlier, but what’s happening in the present is usually a complete mystery. So, this was a late one. I had to do a lot of work after my first draft. … I had some other people in her family have bigger roles in what ended up happening, if that makes sense — without giving it entirely away.

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